Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Metaphor for a Broken System

While our Prime Minister parades around talking about his plan for protecting Canada's north and asserting our sovereignty north of the 60th parallel, one has to ask oneself about our communities who live in the northern territories. After all what's the point of protecting the north and asserting our ourselves if our communities are dying a little at a time?

This whole thing for me was sparked by the picture seen about of two ten your old boys sleeping next to an Iqaluit grocery store in the early hours of the morning. I know that it might be an isolated event, as officials from Nunavut were telling the Globe and Mail. The bottom line though is that the figures don't lie here is a chart below that shows the suicide rate in Nunavut as compared to the rest of Canada.

The suicide rate in Nunavut is 11 times higher than the national average. That should tell you something about our northern supremacy. I understand that we have a legitimate claim to the land and the oil and the ice, but how about claiming back the basic rights of our own people and take a second to think about them before we worry too much about the rest?

There is a chronic housing shortage that sees at times 20 people living in the same 2 bedroom residence, it is also a place where 25% of people taking part in a psychology study claimed to be victims of abuse and a place where children would rather sleep on the streets than go home.

I'm not saying that the government is the only one to blame, but I think that the territorial government when asked about the issues should address them directly with a concrete plan instead of saying:
"Just like anywhere else in the cities or towns across Canada, there are negative things that are happening as well as positive things, and Nunavut is no exception.”
“The media will certainly concentrate on one area, most times unfortunately on our negative side of things, and not so much on the positive things that have been happening in Nunavut since the creation of the territory.”

While the media are certainly scandal hungry, I also think that they have done a wonderful job in bringing this issue to the front and center where it belongs. In a country that spends billions on bailouts, billions on foreign aid, billions in Afghanistan, billions in repairing our roads, billions on the Olympics couldn't we also spend a mere 250million on building enough homes for everyone in Nunavut, or job creation? (I know we have programs present, but it's clear that they aren't sufficient)

The picture of the 10year olds is a metaphor, an image that mirrors the situation of thousands of our fellow citizens and we need to address this as if they were our own children. Our children and those of generations to come really are the most precious resource that we have and if they keep sleeping in the streets or committing suicide there won't be a population left in the north we're trying so hard to protect.

(all images above are reproduced from

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Friday, August 14, 2009

A Forstress of Solitude

More and more lately I hear people telling that sometimes men just need to go to a cave and be by themselves, it’s from the book “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”, or something. Even Superman had a place he went to when he needed to be alone, a cave made of ice called the Fortress of Solitude.

Recently I think I’ve been looking for that cave or that Fortress and I haven’t been able to find it. First I looked for it inside own my head, the one place where I could truly be free; but that was a wasted effort because when worries and concerns and thoughts and nightmares start to creep up the first place they go and look for you is inside your own head. So I looked in a bottle, well in many bottles, and surprise it wasn’t there either; the liquor that up until that point had always an escape from the everyday became the dagger of memory and the fist of misery. So I looked to my bass strings and my guitar strings to play a sweet lullaby of painless, thoughtless, loveless, worry free times; but to no avail, the songs kept reflecting my need to escape to cave. So I kept looking and kept looking and thought: the Internet! That’s the place where I can be alone and gather my thoughts; but the internet somehow ends up getting crowded with people and things to do, so much so that you need time off the computer just to get away from it all.

In the end folks, I’m still looking for my elusive Fortress of Solitude. My place of worry-free time, the place where life doesn’t creep in and bite you in the ass, the place where I can be whoever I want to be, think whatever I want and just breathe. I’m not sure I’ll ever find it. I’m not sure anybody knows exactly where to find it, but I promise that I will and when I do find it, I’m not sharing it with anyone because inviting people to my Fortress of Solitude would defeat its entire purpose. So find your cave or your Fortress and keep it a secret, never tell a soul where it is and when you're feeling alone and crazy, just remember that all of us are also looking for this mystical place.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trouble in my Old Hood.

Once upon a time, I lived in the heart of Montreal's village on Amherst street, home of cheap rent, leather boy bars S&M stores and Montreal's only Cuban restaurant. But now a proposed bill would see the street name changed to something less... English.

In an article in the Gazette Nicolas Montmorency (a city councilor) and Les Jeunes Patriotes du Québec (don't ask) are in favor of bringing forth a bill to change all the English street names in Montreal to French ones, starting with Amherst, "Montmorency also wants University St. to become rue de l’Université, McGill College Ave. changed to Avenue du Collège McGill, and City Councillors St. to Rue des Conseillers municipaux."

“Montreal is a French city and streets should be named in a French way.” Wake up asshole, Montreal is not a French city, it is a multicultural playground for people of all backgrounds, you want to rename streets because they sound too English? Move somewhere else and screw up their city.

Granted Amherst was an idiot... He is the one who had the idea of sending blankets infected with smallpox to Indians in order to exterminate them, so perhaps we should change the name of Amherst street for that reason. But we shouldn't change it because of language issues.

People of English background have been a big part of making this city what it is and even if the separatists hate to admit it, the Anglos are as much a part of this city as we (the francohpones) are. We can't erase history and we shouldn't forget where we are from.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Burma: Justice, Junta Style

The Associated Press reported this morning that Myanmar's opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi will see the length of her house arrest prolonged by 18 months. A time in which she will allowed to have access to state doctors and state media.

The sentence came after an American (who was also on trial) swam across a lake to reach her home and she allowed him to stay there for two days, thus breaching the terms of her house arrest. John Yettaw, the American, was sentenced to 7 years including 4 years of hard labor even though he claims that he swam across the lake because he had a vision from God that Suu Kyi's life was in danger.

The Junta, which imprisons just about everybody and their dog for no particular reasons, decided today to reduce her original sentence of 3 years hard labor to 18 months house arrest, probably due to international pressure. Besides... the arrest keeps her in state custody long enough that she will not be able to run in upcoming "elections" planned for the fall.

The international community is said to be outraged, the UN is outraged and Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is down right pissed off... Let's see if this time the international community steps up and throws more than just empty words in front of the cameras, let's see if they can grow a pair and do something concrete to help Myanmar and rid them of this totalitarian regime that is plaguing the already battered people of this country.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

More Sham Trials in Iran... (surpise!)

A French lecturer named Clotilde Reiss and staff from the French and British Embassies were charged in court yesterday with "spying and aiding a Western plot to overthrow the system of clerical rule"; according to an article in the Globe and Mail.

It is unclear if Reiss or the others were provided with interpreters while the charges were read and as we know from articles published last week, defendants in these mock trials are not allowed to have defense lawyers present. Many have called these proceedings by Iran's Revolutionary Court to be a sham, a farce and an outrage.

Since the June 12th elections official news sources state that over 20 people were killed in riots in the streets, but other sources from inside the country claimed to have confirmed over 1000 deaths.

In addition it would seems that "collecting news and information and sending pictures of the unrest abroad" is also considered a crime in Iran as these were also part of the charges laid against the defendants.

France and England expressed their outrage as did most of the EU, but it doesn't seem to slow down Iran pounding more victims into the ground with its iron fist. The trials are continuing and media coverage is dwindling, it's important for all of us to keep Iran in the news, not only because of the foreign nationals that are being held, but because the people of Iran believed, when they started reaching across cyberspace, that we would keep this alive as long they kept fighting for their rights. They haven't given up and neither should we.

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